The development of Cummingsburg
In 1759, Jaques Salignac applied for a grant of land containing 2.02 square kilometres (500 acres) for the purpose of cultivating cotton and coffee. His request was granted by the Court of Policy and he named the estate La Bourgade. By 1807, a Scottish named Thomas Cumming, bought the plantation and renamed it Cummingsburg, after his family. In 1864, the western plot of Cummingsburg was destroyed by fire.
For most of the 1800s, Cummingsburg was known for its fresh water canals which were usually filled with small fishes, Victoria Regia and Lotus Lilies; these were supposedly planted by a Mr. Luke M. Hill. By the late 1800s, these canals were converted to into walkways. One good example is of the Main Street canal which was filled in 1897 and named the Queen Victoria Promenade by the Mayor and Town Council in honour of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee (it is now commonly called Main Street Avenue).
Some of the streets in Cummingsburg were named after influential individuals during the 1800s while others got their names due to their locations. Waterloo Street was named for Admiral Wellington’s great battle and Victory at Waterloo against the French forces on June 18, 1815. Carmichael Street was named after British Guiana Governor, Hugh Lyle Carmichael (1812-1813). Thomas Street got its name due to it serving as the main entrance for the nearby Plantation Thomas. East Street got its name because it was located in the eastern portion of ward and Middle Street because it was found in the centre of cummingsburg.
Lamaha Street got its name due to its northerly direction with the main drainage trench in the district. New Market Street got its name because it led to a “new” market located in the ward and Church Street because it served as the primary route to the St. George’s Cathedral. Two streets have been renamed overtime; Cummings Street which was formerly known as the backdam road and Quamina Street, named after an African slave, was previously called Murray Street.
Buildings of Historic Cummingsburg
Ministry of Finance
The Ministry of Finance is located on Main Street, Cummingsburg, Georgetown and previously functioned as the head office of the Transport and Harbours Department.
Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology
The Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology (previously known as ART) is located on Main Street, Cummingsburg, Georgetown and was founded in 1974, to house the collection of Guyanese Archaeologist Dr. Denis Williams. It was the first museum of anthropology to be established in the English speaking Caribbean. The institution was named in honour of Walter E. Roth (1861-1933), a noted anthropologist, administrator and surgeon who was educated in England. The museum is housed in a 19th colonial building designed by architect John Bradshaw Sharples, it was once the residence of Duncan Hutson, an eminent Barrister and legislator. It was also home to many other prominent figures prior to its acquisition by Government in 1942.
The National Library is located on Church Street, Cummingsburg, Georgetown. It was designed by Architect, Mr. Leonard Percival Hodge and was constructed in 1909. This edifice was funded by a Scottish born American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and was once known as the Public Free Library. In 1935, the upper floor was added to what is now known as the Carnegie Building through continued funding from the Carnegie Corporation. A new wing was added to the building in 2001.
Colgrain House is a late 18th century colonial Great House whose name is derived from one of its previous owners, a Scottish family. The building is located on Camp Street, Cummingsburg, Georgetown. One of the earliest recorded owners of the property, Mr. Edward Jones, of Riverside Wharf Co. sold it to La Pentience Estates, M.B.G Austin, the son of Bishop William Austin in 1909. The structure was then sold on a number of occasions and in 1951, it was sold to Bookers Holding and called “Booker House”.
Bookers Holding then sold the property to the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1975, it was sold to the Government of Guyana and was later used as the Official Residence of the Secretary-General to Caricom, being officially addressed as Colgrain House. In 2015, the edifice was occupied by the Ministry of Public Telecommunications & Tourism and later the Ministry of Public Telecommunications.
Cara Lodge is located at Lot 294 Quamina Street, Cummingsburg, Georgetown. The property was owned by the Merservey family, and it was this family that built two structures, circa 1840, one for themselves and the other for their servants. During the latter part of the 19th century the property, with the two buildings were sold to Mr. George Anderson Forshaw, the first Mayor of Georgetown. While Mr. Forshaw served as Mayor, the two buildings were joined together and were transformed into his office where most of his social activities were conducted. In the yard is a Sapodilla tree that was planted by the Prince of Wales, Edward VII, on a visit to the colony.
By 1950, the property was under the ownership of Reverend and Mrs. Henderson and later, Dr. Jabez and Mrs. Dorothy Tiatt. It was under the Tiatts that Cara Lodge rose to its prominence. Their residence adapted the name Woodbine House and served as a hub for cultural activities in the country for many decades. In February 1996, Cara Lodge opened its doors with 14 rooms under the brand, Cara Suite Hotels.
Guyana Office for Investment (Go Invest)
The Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) is located at the intersection of Camp and Church Streets, Cummingsburg, Georgetown. The three-storey colonial timber building was constructed in 1925. It was designed by H.O Durbam and bought by E.C.V. Kidman . The building was by the popular cricketer, John A. Browne, in 1937 and Frederick Kerry in 1945. In 1974 Neville Hubert King acquired it and sold it to the Government of Guyana in 1979. The Guyana Office for Investment was established in 1985.
Christ Church is located on Waterloo Street, Cummingsburg, Georgetown. The church initially was a proprietary chapel formed when some members of the St. George’s Cathedral left the church because they did not approve of the way rituals were practiced at the cathedral. Initially there was an appeal to have the new chapel constructed on Parade Ground but permission was not granted. The chapel was instead provided with two plots of land (171-172) on Waterloo Street, in front of the ground where the barracks were supposedly located. Christ Church was completed in 1836 but was not consecrated until November 21, 1843, by Bishop Austin, in the presence of the then Governor of British Guiana.
Georgetown Public Hospital
The Georgetown Public Hospital occupies 1-½ blocks, it is bordered by Lamaha Street, Thomas Street and Middle Street. The hospital’s oldest section, the Seamans Ward, was first built in 1838. today this hospital is managed by the Ministry of Health and provides a variety of health services to Guyanese free of cost.
Prime Minister’s Residence
This 19th century three-storey colonial timber building is located on Main Street, Cummingsburg, Georgetown. It was first built to accommodate Mr. Sandbach of Sandbach Parker and company. By 1911, the building was sold to the business firm Bookers Brothers Limited popularly known as Bookers. In 1962 it was sold to the British Government, later becoming the official residence of the British High Commissioner and by 1987, the Government of Guyana acquired it as the Official Residence of the Prime Minister. Architectural features of this building include the Demerara shutter windows, arched windows, tower, oriel window, and an open porch on the ground floor.
Sacred Heart Church
Sacred Heart Church is located on Main Street, Cummingsburg, Georgetown. In 1858, there was an influx of approximately 35,000 Portuguese in the then colony of British Guiana; most of these would be labourers were considered of the Roman Catholic faith. Most of these indentured servants preferred the Jesuits Catholic Church which was located on Brickdam but the building wasn’t large enough to accommodate such a large amount of persons.
A plot of land on Main Street was acquired in April, 1860 to build a new church. Construction began on the church at a cost of $1200.00. When completed the following year, the overall cost had risen to $18,000.00. The new church, called, Sacred Heart Catholic Church was consecrated by Father Scehmbri, during a midnight mass in the month of December, 1861. This building was destroyed by fire on December 25, 2004, 143 years after gracing the landscape of Georgetown. A new church baring similar features to the old structure was rebuilt and consecrated in December 2015.
The Cenotaph is located in the vicinity of Church and Main Streets, Georgetown. This marble structure was unveiled by Governor Graeme Thompson on August 14, 1923 and the first Armistice Day observances were held there in November 1923. On the four faces of the base of the Cenotaph are inscribed the four words – Devotion, Humanity, Fortitude, and Sacrifice. After the second world war Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day which is still observed at this site that honours the Guyanese soldiers who died in service during World Wars I (1914-1918) and II (1939-1945).
The Georgetown Club, located on Camp Street, Cummingsburg, Georgetown was founded in 1858. The club was first housed on the lower flat of the Assembly Rooms which was destroyed by fire in 1945. During the British era, the club was the hub for male white aristocracy in the colony. After the great fire of 1945, the club was moved to its current location. The building today, serves as a reminder of Guyana’s rich colonial heritage.
Moray House, a 19th century colonial timber structure is located at the junction of Quamina and Camp Streets, Cummingsburg, Georgetown. The building was the private residence of the David De Caires family until 2011 when the Moray House Trust was established in memory of Mr. David de Caires. The institution now nurtures cultural initiatives that promote heritage conservation, civil liberties and sports.
Promenade Gardens is located between Waterloo and Carmichael Streets, Cummingsburg, Georgetown and borders New Market and Middle Streets. The garden was established and opened to the general public by 1853 on a portion of the site previously known as Parade Ground where enslaved Africans were hung for their role in the 1823 Demerara Revolt. Today, the garden consists of a number historic features and ‘exotic’ flora that contribute to the richness of Guyana’s collective heritage.
National Trust of Guyana
The National Trust of Guyana is located on Carmichael Street, North Cummingsburg, Georgetown. The three-storey timber building is sometimes referred to as the Valarie Rodway building. It is a 19th century colonial structure that was part of the former Governor House, now State House, complex believed to have housed the offices of the Governors’ Secretaries. The Burrowes School of Art was also housed in the building prior to the National Trust’s occupation in 1999. Elegant examples of Demerara Shutters can be seen on this edifice. The National Trust was established in 1972 by an Act of Parliament to preserve and promote monuments in Guyana.
Located on Carmichael Street, Georgetown, State House, formerly known as Government House was built circa 1820. It is situated a plot of land belonging to William Piercy Austin, the first Bishop of British Guyana. It served as home to many Governors and past heads of state. Today, it remains the official residence of the President of Guyana.
Ministry of Education, Department of Culture, Youth and Sport
The Ministry of Education, Department of Culture, Youth and Sport is housed a 20th century wooden edifice built circa 1920. The building was formerly known as Avery House and served as the headquarters of the Bauxite Industry of Guyana. For a brief period, the structure was known as BIDCO House. In 1999, the then Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport moved into the building and it has been the home to the administrative unit of the ministry to date.
The Plaza Cinema was the first theatre in British Guiana. It was built in 1913. This was the scene of many concerts and a house for theatrical displays in the 1930’s by musicians and comedians of the era.
Independence Park (Parade Ground)
Independence Park is located between Waterloo and Carmichael Streets, Cummingsburg, Georgetown opposite the Promenade Gardens to the south. The park, which received its name after Guyana gained independent status in 1966, was once a part of Parade Ground along with the Promenade Garden. Parade Ground, a militia facility, was established in the early 1800s; it is mostly recognised for the 1823 executions of some of the Demerara Revolt leaders that took place on its gallows.
This former branch of the Post Office of Guyana which was established in 1860 and was closed in 1962 when the Post Office Training School was opened. The building currently houses an Internet Cafe and Post Office operated by the Guyana Post Office Corporation.
Georgetown Railway Terminus (Locomotive Sheds)
The Georgetown Railway Terminus is located on the site of a former burial ground and what was originally Company Path between Eve Leary and La Bourgade in the 18th century. The Lamaha Railway Headquarters is a site of great historical importance in the foundation of the city of Georgetown. This terminus is believed to be the oldest in South America.
The idea of building a railway was strongly supported by the Royal Agricultural and Commercial Society. In July 1846, a bill proposing the construction of the railway was approved. The line was first constructed from Georgetown to Plaisance and was opened on November 03, 1848. The second section of the railway which ended at Mahaica was constructed in 1864. The architect of the station house, Mr. John Bradshaw Sharples was contracted by the British Guiana Railway Company to erect this and other stations along the Georgetown-Rosignol route. In the end, the railway measuring 34600.9 metres (21.5 miles), had taken 18 years to build. In the 1970s however, the railway was closed in stages. The railway between Georgetown and Mahaica was closed in July 1972 and the station in Lamaha Street was converted to a bus terminal.
Other sites in Cummingsburg
Quamina Memorial Monument
Located on Quamina Street, Georgetown, is the Quamina Monument. Built of brick, this memorial was unveiled on July 28, 1985 by President, Mr. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham. It was erected in memory of Quamina, an enslaved African who was martyred in for his role in the 1823 Demerara Revolt.
Mahatma Ghandi Monument
Mahatma Ghandi was a well-known and respected Indian leader who led the Indian Independence Movement against the British in India. In honouring his achievements, Guyana unveiled a bronze statue of him on a sliver plated wheel on October 2, 1969, 100 years after his birth. It was unveiled by Sir David Rose, Governor General of Guyana and is located in the Promenade Gardens, Cummingsburg, Georgetown.
Indian Arrival Monument
The Indian Arrival Monument is located on the lawns of Merriman Mall with its main entrance on Camp Street, Cummingsburg, Georgetown. It honours the Indian Indentured immigrants who came to British Guiana during 1838 to 1917. The bronze sculpture which rests on a black granite pedestal represents the Whitby ship that transported the first batch of Indian Indentured Immigrants to Guyana on May 5, 1838. It was was designed in India and transported to Guyana in 1996. Mr. Yesu Persaud unveiled this monument on May 5, 1997.